[Tweeters] RE: Ivory-billed Woodpecker Questioned

Mike Patterson celata at pacifier.com
Fri Jul 22 08:25:44 PDT 2005

Are those who question the evidence brought forward to support
the presence of a Ivory-billed Woodpecker in Arkansas merely
suffering from sour grapes?  I doubt it.  This certainly happens
in the scientific community, but the timing in this case seems
more like the usual public peer review process.  Finding an
Ivory-billed Woodpecker is a big deal, and the evidence needs to
be vetted thoroughly.

Would this evidence have passed a records committee review?  Well,
records committees are notoriously squirrelly.  They aren't always
composed of scientists.  I even know of a few very competent 
birders who can't get on recorders committees because they're
thought to be "too scientific".  But let's turn the question on
its side.  Suppose you saw an Eskimo Curlew at Nisqually.  Would
you report it? or wait until you had unequivocal proof?  Let's
further suppose that the bulldozers were at the park boundaries
in preparation to convert the curlew's habitat into something
that could generate more revenue for the refuge.  

So, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker evidence (at least as presented)
would probably not have passed review, but it nevertheless was
appropriate to make it available for review.  Birders report very 
rare things on much slimmer proof all the time.  It makes more
sense to report the evidence and take the appropriate measure to
secure the habitat and the capacity to get more proof, than to 
wait until there's no doubt, especially when the habitat is under 
imminent threat.  Even if it turns out that the video shows a double-
tapping leucistic Pileated Woodpecker, there's no harm in nailing 
down all that habitat for equally deserving creatures who lack the 
sexiness of a big woodpecker.

Mike Patterson               
Astoria, OR                    
celata at pacifier.com  
Beginner's Luck.... on the science and serendipity of finding stuff 

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